Today, about one in three South Dakota students have to spend credit hours, and their hard-earned dollars, on remedial courses when they first arrive to college – just to catch up to where they need to be to begin their higher education.
A study recently released by the state Department of Education reflected the same results and showed that even in our largest communities, only one third of students are able to fulfill the state’s standards for college and career readiness.
We can do better.
There is no underestimating the influence of a good education. Students gain confidence and upward mobility, communities often experience decreased crime rates, and employers get access to a skilled workforce, bringing good jobs and higher wages to the area.
That’s why I’ve created a plan to better prepare students for college, the workforce, and citizenship over the next four years, doing so in a way that balances the needs of families, teachers and administrators, and taxpayers.
This starts with doing more good with every taxpayer dollar. We can do that by expanding centralized and standardized purchasing and giving local schools more options to cut costs by taking advantage of the state’s massive purchasing power.
We’ll also need to continue fighting for the flexibilities we need from the federal government to best serve South Dakota students. Those working closest with our kids shouldn’t be micromanaged by bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
Exposing kids to in-demand jobs earlier is critical as well, so I’m committed to providing career counseling and information regarding these sorts of jobs beginning at the middle-school level. My administration will also work to expand experience-driven learning opportunities before college.
What’s more, I believe the next generation of South Dakotans must understand the foundations of our nation, the tremendous sacrifices made to protect our constitutional rights, and the freedoms, liberties, and responsibilities we have as citizens. I’ll collaborate with school districts to expand civics and U.S. history programs and encourage schools to include the citizenship test as part of their graduation criteria.
There’s no better place to grow up than South Dakota, and in order to equip the next generation with the tools they need to thrive and stay in our state, we must strengthen the training programs available to them and continually look for innovative ways to improve our education system.
Let’s make sure our kids have the educational support necessary to unleash every ounce of their God-given potential.